How To Know If Your Thyroid Is Working Properly With Blood Tests.
A recent study showed that nearly 13 million Americans may be unaware of and undiagnosed for their thyroid conditions. Are you one of them? Another study showed that if you are a pregnant woman and you have a low thyroid your child’s IQ would be affected. Yet another recent study showed that if you an elderly woman with thyroid problems you will have an increased risk of heart disease
The big myth that persists regarding thyroid diagnosis is that an elevated TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level is always required before a diagnosis of hypothyroidism can be made. Normally, the pituitary gland will secrete TSH in response to a low thyroid hormone level. Thus an elevated TSH level would typically suggest an under active thyroid.
Your Doctor Does Not Likely Understand How To Interpret Your Tests Properly
Thyroid function tests have always presented doctors with difficulties in their interpretation. Laboratory testing is often misleading due to the complexity and inherent shortcomings of the tests themselves. Many doctors not having an adequate understanding of what the test results mean, will often make incorrect assumptions based on them or interpret them too strictly. A narrow interpretation of thyroid function testing leads to many people not being treated for sub clinical hypothyroidism.
Old Laboratory Tests Unreliable
Most older thyroid function panels include the following:
* Total T4
* T3 Uptake and
* Free Thyroxin Index (FTI).
These tests should probably be abandoned because they are unreliable as gauges of thyroid function and are often misinterpreted. The most common traditional way to diagnose hypothyroidism is with a TSH that is elevated beyond the normal reference range. For most labs, this is about 4.0 to 4.5. This is thought to reflect the pituitary’s sensing of inadequate thyroid hormone levels in the blood, which would be consistent with hypothyroidism. There is no question that this will diagnose hypothyroidism, but it is far too insensitive a measure, and the vast majority of patients who have hypothyroidism will be missed.
Basal Body Temperature
The late Broda Barnes, M.D., popularized basal body temperature taking. He found clinical symptoms and the body temperature to be more reliable than the standard laboratory tests were provided. This is clearly better than using the standard tests. However there are problems with using body temperature.
* Sleeping under electric blankets or water beds falsely raise temperature
* Sensitive and accurate thermometer required
* Inconvenient and many people will not do (poor compliance)
New and More Accurate Way To Check for Hypothyroidism
This revised method of diagnosing and treating hypothyroidism seems superior to the temperature regulation method promoted by Broda Barnes and many natural medicine physicians. Most patients continue to have classic hypothyroid symptoms because excessive reliance is placed on the TSH. This test is a highly accurate measure of TSH but not of the height of thyroid hormone levels.
New Range for TSH to Diagnose Hypothyroidism
The basic problem that traditional medicine has with diagnosing hypothyroidism is the so-called “normal range” of TSH is far too high: Many patients with TSH’s of greater than 1.5 (not 4.5) have classic symptoms and signs of hypothyroidism (see below).
* So, if your TSH is above 1.5 there is a strong chance your thyroid gland is not working properly.
Free Thyroid Hormone Levels
One can also use the Free T3 and Free T4 and TSH levels to help one identify how well the thyroid gland is working. Free T3 and Free T4 levels are the only accurate measure of the actual active thyroid hormone levels in the blood.
When one uses free hormone levels one will find that it is relatively common to find the Free T4 and Free T3 hormone levels below normal when TSH is in its normal range, even in the low end of its normal range. When patients with these lab values are treated, one typically finds tremendous improvement in the patient, and a reduction of the classic hypothyroid symptoms.
Secondary or Tertiary Hypothyroidism
There are a significant number of individuals who have a TSH even below the new 1.5 reference range mentioned above, but their Free T3 (and possibly the Free T4 as well) will be below normal. These are cases of secondary or tertiary hypothyroidism, so, TSH alone is not an accurate test of all forms of hypothyroidism, only primary hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of Low Thyroid
* The most common is fatigue.
* Skin can become dry, cold, rough and scaly.
* hair becomes coarse, brittle and grows slowly or may fall out excessively.
* Sensitivity to cold with feelings of being chilly in rooms of normal temperature.
* Difficult for a person to sweat and their perspiration may be decreased or even absent even during heavy exercise and hot weather.
* Constipation that is resistant to magnesium supplementation and other mild laxatives is also another common symptom.
* Difficulty in losing weight despite rigid adherence to a low grain diet seems to be a common finding especially in women.
* Depression and muscle weakness are other common symptoms.